Business / Companies

Suning clinches Inter Milan stake

By Cang Wei,Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-07 02:33

Suning clinches Inter Milan stake

Inter Milan Vice-President Javier Zanetti (left) and Vice-President of Suning Sports Group Gong Lei exchange shirts in Nanjing. Liu Jianmin / For China Daily

China's soccer industry has applauded retail giant Suning Commerce Group's acquisition of a majority stake in top European club Inter Milan.

Liu Tong, a senior official at the Chinese Football Association, said the deal provides a precious opportunity for Chinese soccer to improve its management and competition skills.

Suning's subsidiary, Suning Sports Group, signed the deal for 270 million euros ($306 million) in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Monday, sealing the acquisition of a nearly 70 percent stake from Inter Milan majority shareholder International Sports Capital.

The deal leaves International Sports Capital as the sole minority shareholder at the club, with Erick Thohir retaining his position as president.

"I'm very excited to have Suning in the team," Thohir said, adding that top soccer clubs such as Inter Milan need strong partners for capital support and business operations to better compete in the international arena and serve fans globally.

Zhang Jindong, chairman of Suning Holdings Group, said, "With Suning's sustained investment, the aspirations of Massimo Moratti, the former president of Inter Milan, and management know-how from Thohir, the club will continue to be a cradle and center for leading soccer players.

"Collaboration with Inter Milan is a milestone for China's soccer history and for the development of Suning Sports," he said.

The deal was forged after the first meeting between Zhang and Thohir before Spring Festival in February.

Zhang, who visited Moratti one month ago in Italy, said, "I was deeply impressed by his passion and dedication to soccer."

The acquisition is expected to bring to the Italian club the world's largest soccer fan market and Suning's continuous capital investment, according to the retailer.

The multi-industry conglomerate has been eyeing the rising trend of sports and health-related consumption in China.

The group said it hopes to enhance exchanges between Jiangsu Suning Football Club in China, which it owns, and Inter Milan.

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